Princeton University

School of Engineering & Applied Science

Paul Prucnal

Professor of Electrical Engineering

Room: B314 Engineering Quadrangle
Phone: 609-258-5549
Webpage: Prucnal Lab: Lightwave Communications Research


  • Ph.D., Columbia University, 1979
  • M.Phil., Columbia University, 1978
  • M.S., in Electrical Engineering, Columbia University, 1976
  • A.B., Bowdoin College, summa cum laud, 1974

Research in my group, the Lightwave Communications Laboratory, is focused on investigating ultrafast optical techniques with application to communication networks and signal processing. My graduate students and I are working on several exciting and innovative research projects, which benefit from close collaborations with government and industrial research laboratories. A few examples of these projects fare given below: Physical (Optical) Layer Network Security: 
Security in fiber optic networks is becoming of critical importance due to the nature and volume of the data that is transported. The optical layer of a network is itself vulnerable to attack by eavesdropping or jamming. My group is investigating several approaches using optical signal processing to counter these attacks, including optical steganography, all-optical encryption devices, anti-jamming techniques, and survivable network architectures. Optical Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA):
Incoherent optical CDMA networks can offer several important system advantages that cannot be achieved with other multiplexing techniques such as TDM and WDM, including asynchronous access, soft blocking, privacy, scalability and variable quality of service. We are developing novel integrated technologies that will enable the realization of practical optical CDMA networks, which will be strong candidates for future broadband access networks. Nonlinear Optical Signal Processing for Ultrafast Networks:
 Based on nonlinear phenomena in semiconductor devices and nonlinear fibers, numerous optical signal processing functions can be achieved which can enhance the performance of ultrafast optical networks. We are studying novel devices and their applications, including optical thresholding, auto-correlation peak extraction, demultiplexing, physical layer security enhancement, and interferometric noise suppression Optical Cancellation
of RF Interference: Wireless communictions systems often suffer from co-site interference, where the signal from a nearby transmission antenna interferes with simultaneously receiving a weak signal in a nearby frequency band. Multipath effects make this problem especially challenging. We are investigating optical and optoelectronic signal processing techniques to process RF signals from single antennas as well as phased arrays, enhancing their performance and enabling rapid reconfigurability. The Photonic Neuron:
 Using nonlinear optical and photonic materials, we have recently built a hybrid analog/digital signal processing device which performs all the functions of a physiological neuron, but one billion times fast. Our spiking neuron is faster and more efficient than a digital computer, and does not suffer from the noise accumulation of analog electronics. Using the photonic neuron, we are implementing sophisticated, ultrafast signal processing circuits and systems which emulate visual, auditory, and motor functions found in biological organisms. With a high degree of interaction between government and industrial research laboratories, the Lightwave Communications Laboratory offers students an opportunity to be involved in the creation of technology for the next generation of optical signal processing, computing and communications systems. Please visit my lab website to find out more information about my group and our research, as well as to download a booklet containing some of our recent papers. To find out more about my group’s collaborations with industry, you can also visit the website of the Center for Network Science and Applications.

Honors and Awards

  • SEAS Distinguished Teaching Award (2009)
  • Walter Curtis Johnson Prize for Teaching Excellence (2009)
  • Princeton University Graduate Mentoring Award (2006)
  • Fellow of the OSA (1997)
  • Fellow of the IEEE (1992)
  • Rudolf Kingslake Medal and Prize, SPIE, for the most noteworthy original paper in Optical Engineering (1990)

Selected Publications

  1. Z. Wang, A, Chowdhury, and P. R. Prucnal, “Optical CDMA Code Wavelength Conversion using PPLN to Improve Transmission Security”, IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett., vol 21, iss. 6, pp. 383-385, 2009

  2. Z. Wang, Y. K. Huang, Y. Deng, J. Chang, P. R. Prucnal, “Optical Encryption with OCDMA Code Swapping Using All-Optical XOR Logic Gate”, IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett., vol 21, iss. 7, pp. 411-413, 2009.

  3. Y. Deng, Z. Wang, K. Kravtsov, J. Chang, C. Hartzell, M. P. Fok, and P. R. Prucnal, “Demonstration and analysis of asynchronous and survivable optical CDMA ring networks,” IEEE J. Opt. Commun. Net., submitted in Sept. 2009.

  4. Y. Deng, K. Kravtsov, M. P. Fok, P. R. Prucnal, K. Sasaki, G. C. Gupta, and S. Kobayashi, “Asynchronous detection of compact and integrable incoherent optical CDMA system,” IEEE J. Lightwave. Tech., accepted for publication in Sept. 2009.

  5. K. Kravtsov, P. R. Prucnal “Ultrashort Optical Pulse Detection for Truly Asynchronous Optical CDMA Networks”, IEEE J. Lightwav. Tech., September 2009

  6. Y. Deng, K. Thompson, M. P. Fok, and P. R. Prucnal, “Interferometric noise characterization and suppression in optical CDMA networks,” IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett, vol 21, iss 14, pp 981-983, July 2009.

  7. M. P. Fok, Y. Deng, and P. R. Prucnal, “A Compact Nonlinear Fiber-Based Optical Autocorrelation Peak Discriminator,” Optics Express, vol. 17, iss. 12, pp. 9918 – 9923, June 2009.

  8. K. Kravtsov, Y. Deng, P. R. Prucnal “Self-clocked all-optical add/drop multiplexer for asynchronous CDMA ring networks”, IEEE J. Quant. Electron., vol 45, iss 4, pp.396-401, Apr 2009.

  9. K. Kravtsov, P. R. Prucnal “Self-clocked 80 Gbit/s Optical time-domain multiplexing transmission with clock distribution based on amplitude discrimination”, Opt. Lett., vol 34, iss 7, pp 944-946, Apr 2009.

  10. M. P. Fok and P. R. Prucnal, “All-Optical Encryption Based on Interleaved Waveband Switching Modulation for Optical Network Security,” Optics Letters, vol. 34, iss. 9, pp. 1315 – 1317, April 2009.

  11. J. Suarez, K. Kravtsov, P.R. Prucnal, "Incoherent Method of Optical Interference Cancellation for Radio-Frequency Communications", IEEE J. Quantum Electron., vol 45, iss 4, pp.402-408, Apr 2009.

  12. K. Kravtsov, Y.-K. Huang, P. R. Prucnal “All-optical 160 Gbit/s time domain demultiplexer based on the heavily GeO2-doped silica-based nonlinear fiber”, Opt. Lett., vol 34, iss 4, pp.491-493, Feb 2009.

  13. M. P. Fok and P. R. Prucnal, “A Compact and Low-Latency Scheme for Optical Steganography Using Chirped Fiber Bragg Gratings,” Electronics Letters, vol. 45, iss. 3, pp. 179 – 180, January 2009.

  14. S. Galli, R. Menendez, E. E. Narimanov, P.R. Prucnal, “A Novel Method of Increasing the Spectral Efficiency of Optical CDMA,” IEEE Transactions on Communications ,vol 56, iss 12, pp. 2133-2144, Dec 2008.

  15. S. Galli, R. Menendez, E. E. Narimanov, P. R. Prucnal, “A novel method for increasing the spectral efficiency of optical CDMA” IEEE Transactions on Communications, vol 56, iss 12, pp 2133 – 2144, Dec 2008.